Sunday, August 31, 2008

State Cable (Lew Rockwell)

Lew Rockwell comments on CNN's statist hurricane coverage:

How many times does CNN have to feature Bush, Chertoff, Paulson, Jindal, Nagin, and the rest of the socialist parasites? They have their plans in place. The federal, state, and local thugs are coordinating. We see large groups of well-rounded cops standing around on street corners in the empty New Orleans, yucking it up on extra pay. Others are racing up and down the streets playing with their lights. They can hardly wait to set up their roadblocks to block private aid.

Would it ever occur to the State News Network to interview the head of Wal-Mart or some other commercial enterprise that actually serves the people, in a crisis as well as every day? That actually coordinates and plans effectively as a matter of course? No. Actual public servants are invisible on CNN.

Roger Young's Image Review of the Week

Roger Young has posted another great Image Review of the Week on the blog. Check it out!

Ron Paul Walks to the Federal Reserve in Minneapolis

Here's a video of Ron Paul and friends at the Freedom Walk here in Minneapolis, where they walked to the Federal Reserve:


Ron Paul on Fox News 8/31/08

Ron Paul appeared on Fox News today to talk about Hurricane Gustav and the conventions:


Rally for the Republic in two days!

The Associated Press has a a nice writeup on Ron Paul's Rally for the Republic, an event that will surely be far superior to that overhyped gathering on the other side of the river:

There's no room at the Xcel Energy Center for maverick Ron Paul, so his acolytes have packed their cars, hitched rides on "Ronvoys" and will pitch tents at Ronstock '08 in defiance of next week's GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn.

Almost 9,800 tickets had been sold for the Rally for the Republic, being held in Minneapolis, which seeks to bring together activists who are anti-war, anti-government regulation, anti-immigration, anti-taxes, anti-Federal Reserve, anti-outsourcing, pro-individual liberty, pro-civil liberties and pro-Paul.

Read the rest

In Government We Trust? (Ron Paul)

Ron Paul on why sound money is so important:

Many who agree with me on a lot of other issues, do not understand my enthusiasm for gold and sound money or why I spend so much time studying and talking about monetary policy. It's true that I talk about money differently than most, but the fact is sound money offers many benefits. For example – peace.

Can sound money really bring about peace? Actually, it plays a big part in peaceful international relationships. Money based on commodities, rather than paper, is not subject to government manipulation, and is a key component to free and honest trade. History shows that if countries engage in trade with each other, their governments tend to find ways to get along for the same reason you do not kill your customers at your place of business, even if they occasionally annoy you. If someone outright cheats you, however, you may engage in “war” by taking them to court, for example, and the relationship will sour. Governments and central banks with unfettered power to manipulate currency also have the ability to cheat their creditors. One way they do this is to simply create enough currency to pay off debts. This devalues the currency and “cheats” the recipient out of what they are owed. It would not be fair if you watered down your product the way our government waters down its currency, so it is not hard to understand, in these simplified terms, why loose monetary policy contributes so much to ill will and war around the world.

Sound money, on the other hand, simply is what it is. Removing governmental power to manipulate money, removes the temptation for government to spend, print and cheat. Sound money ensures that our government’s spending priorities would be brought into sharp focus and reduced to only what we can afford.

Sound money also limits the ability to wage wars of aggression. Imagine how much more careful Washington would have to be about starting a war if they did not have this financial sleight of hand at their disposal! Fiat currency allows government do expensive things they should not be doing while paying the bills with cheap money. The Federal Reserve has lately been auctioning off large amounts of treasury bills as a way to finance the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our crushing entitlement burden. The resulting devaluation of the dollar is quickly eroding our image as a good trading partner in the world. As a consequence, there is therefore more talk of economic isolation and war.

This vicious cycle of spending, fighting and inflating is not what Americans want. It is what the government wants, and it has had to deceive the citizens into allowing and supporting it. Sound money curbs the government’s ability to engage in these shenanigans and reduces the wars we fight to only truly defensive ones, for which Americans are more than willing to stand and fight. So in these ways, sound money is very conducive to peace.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Massive police raids on suspected protestors in Minneapolis (Glenn Greenwald)

Glenn Greenwald witnesses the police state in action here in the Twin Cities:

Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets. Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff's department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than "fire code violations," and early this morning, the Sheriff's department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying.

Read the rest

The Fed and Moral Hazard (B.J. Lawson)

B.J. Lawson has some interesting comments on an enlightening interview with a Federal Reserve insider:

I just watched an instructive interview between CNBC’s Steve Liesman and Harvey Rosenblum, a 38-year Federal Reserve veteran who is currently Director of Research at the Dallas Fed. The entire interview is available here, but let’s start with a brief excerpt:

Liesman: One of the concerns out there right now is that actions by the Federal Reserve and the government will increase what we call “moral hazard.” What are your thoughts on that?

Rosenblum: The Federal Reserve is in business to create moral hazard. The mere act of being a central banker means that your job description involves creating moral hazard. A central bank is a “lender of last resort,” what more moral hazard can you have than having a lender of last resort that people know, when push can to shove, can be relied upon? The Federal Reserve’s job is to cushion the blow to 300 million American citizens of all the economic shocks that hit out there. What drives me crazy is when I hear people shouting “Moral hazard, moral hazard”… that’s what my job is to do…

Liesman then asks Rosenblum an interesting question:

Liesman: You’ve been at the Fed thirty eight years. Do you feel as if some of things being discussed and some of the things the Fed has had to do recently have stretched the Federal Reserve too far?

Rosenblum: No. I think it’s stretching the Federal Reserve in the direction that it needs to be stretched, and we just have to get the laws to catch up with where we ultimately have to be if we’re going to be a 21st century Fed deaing with 21st century financial markets. And if you’re going to be a lender of last resort, you have to have the tools to deal with the thing, and you need more regulatory power. Will regulation ever be perfect? Will it solve all the problems? Absolutely not. At best it will be one step behind the market, but even if you’re two steps behind the market, you’re doing pretty darn good.

There you have it. An insider’s description of a system that is perfectly designed to steal from the poor and middle class, to the benefit of those who control the supply of money and credit. Banks who control the supply of money and credit constantly engineer new ways to exploit the system for their benefit. Importantly, they can push the system past its limits knowing that profits will be privatized during the good times, while losses during crises will be socialized.

Read the rest

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Myth of National Defense (Butler Shaffer)

Butler Shaffer destroys the myth that we need a state to defend us against foreign aggressors by pointing out that, among other things, we already are under the thumb of hostile powers:

When explaining the advantages of living in a society grounded in liberty and voluntary relationships – rather than the statist model of institutionalized violence – the question that invariably provides the final hurdle to overcome is that involving national defense. Intelligent minds can grasp how streets and highways, schools, fire protection, parks, and other traditional governmental functions can be performed in the marketplace. But as if out of fear of letting go of the statist model altogether, most will hang on to the question: how would a non-statist society protect people from invasion and occupation by a foreign state? In a stateless society, what would prevent our being taken over and tyrannized by outside forces? For many – even those who favor a minimal state – "national defense" is a necessity not to be entrusted to the unstructured nature of a society of free people.

My initial response to such hesitancy is to point out that a strong, national government makes us more vulnerable to attack and invasion. The state serves not as a shield that protects us, but a jugular vein that provides others with a central target to be subdued. If men and women have been foolish enough to identify themselves with a nation-state, such attachments make it easy for their governments to transfer their compliant herds to another power. Consider how easily Hitler and Stalin were able – in some cases within a matter of days – to subdue neighboring lands, acquiring in the processes of surrender people already well-trained in the duties of obedience.

Imagine, by contrast, the difficulties that would be faced by any political system intent on invading and subduing men and women already accustomed to liberty. If the Chinese government was intent on conquering a stateless America, how would it go about doing so?

Read the rest

Longing for Dictatorship (Lew Rockwell)

Lew Rockwell on the reality that no matter what members of either party say, all they really want is their own form of dictatorship:

Politics brings out the worst in everyone, which is one good reason to completely depoliticize society. This way we can all busy ourselves in productive work or leisure, instead of wasting vast time watching these clowns on television promise the impossible to us.

What we are being offered on television is two flavors of dictatorship. One party imagines Athens, with fairness and justice for all, international brotherhood and sisterhood, a world free of hate and discrimination in which all wealth is shared and no wealth is made at the expense of nature.

Of course, this is an Athens of their own invention, since the original’s culture and accomplishments depended on free trade, private ownership, sound money, and low taxes. What the Democrats are offering is a monstrously larger state that assumes control of all property, the crushing of private initiative, and an end to economic freedom.

Read the rest

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ron Paul Comments on the 2008 Election

Ron Paul had a nice interview on CNN today:


Why Taxes Don't Matter Much Anymore (Jeff Tucker)

Jeff Tucker explains that the strange disconnect between tax policy and spending policy is only made possible by the counterfeiting of the Federal Reserve:

Barack Obama's tax advisers recently posted a piece in the Wall Street Journal about their candidate's tax plans. Their article was designed to triangulate, painting their candidate as a tax cutter and the Republican opposition as a secret tax raiser. It was well written and well argued — not that you can really trust anything you read about what candidates will or will not do once in office.

In any case, I was discussing the piece with a person whose politics are certainly left of center. She said to me something along the following lines:

I'm really not sure I understand all this tax talk. The government taxes us to get money to do what it wants to do. But it seems like what they do — whether going to war or funding new projects — is never discussed in terms of money they have or don't have. I mean, Bush cut taxes, right? And the reduced revenue should have restrained him. But he spends on whatever he wants. The tax cuts didn't seem to reduce his power at all. Why is this?

It's a good question. Why is it that talk of tax policy doesn't seem to have a relationship to policy generally?

Read the rest

Cracks in the Empire (Michael Rozeff)

Michael Rozeff on the rise and inevitable fall of the American empire:

Building an empire is one thing. Preserving it is quite another.

"If the U.S. government allows Fannie and Freddie to fail and international investors are not compensated adequately, the consequences will be catastrophic. If it is not the end of the world, it is the end of the current international financial system. The seriousness of such failures could be beyond the stretch of people's imagination." These are the words of Yu Yongding, who is a Professor in Beijing and a former advisor to China’s central bank (August 22, 2008, in Bloomberg news).

We should listen to Prof. Yongding.

Read the rest

When Desertion is a Duty (William Grigg)

William Grigg on just desertion from the military:

A young man named Stephen with large hopes and a small bank account answered an employment ad for a security agency. Offered a generous salary, extravagant benefits, and a sizable signing bonus, he inked a renewable employment contract promising to work for the agency for six years.

Only after Stephen passed through the agency's training program did he discover that the security firm was actually a front for a criminal syndicate. Rather than protecting lives and property, he would be required to take part in armed robberies and expected to kill, when necessary, to ensure the success of the "mission."

Stephen had no problem with the idea of risking his life for money, but he wanted nothing to do with crimes against innocent people. So he simply walked away from his job. Question: Should Stephen be subject to civil or criminal liability for deserting his employers and violating the terms of his contract?

Read the rest

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Media Blackout: The Armada in the Gulf (Gary North)

Gary North on the ignored story of the immense U.S. military buildup in the Persian Gulf:

The media have covered such recent events as the Olympics, the selection of Joe Biden as the Vice Presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, and what John McCain is going to do about the selection of the Vice President of the Republican Party. Now the media will focus on the national convention of the Democratic Party.

The most important news for the month of August was the fact that President Bush has quietly sent the largest armada into the Persian Gulf since the Iraq war began in 2003, when there were six carrier groups. This is a huge number of ships to be concentrated in one location in peacetime.

This story has been completely ignored by the news media all over the West.

Read the rest

Recovering Lawns, Failed States, and Reasons for Hope (William Grigg)

William Grigg looks forward to the regime in D.C. becoming part of the large list of "failed states," so that a Somali-like (state-less) recovery can begin. An excerpt:

People have been seduced into believing that they can live in symbiosis with the State that is killing what little liberty and prosperity we still enjoy. We have succumbed to the lure of what Bastiat called "institutionalized plunder," fallen prey to the temptation to employ the State's coercive power to live at the expense of others. And now we've reached a point where a simple weeding, even a thorough one, won't suffice.

Something much more invasive, more catastrophic, will be required to beat down the State's overgrowth and clear the field so that freedom can flourish and genuinely civilized life can recover.

The unfolding economic collapse -- which implicates every significant institution of the evil system that rules us -- could be a providential catastrophe, if it is dealt with correctly. To put the matter simply, for our civilization to recover, the United States of America needs to become a "failed state."

Read the rest

The Meaning and Value of Gold (Glen Allport)

Glen Allport discusses why gold has intrinsic value, and why returning to a system of gold money could literally save millions of lives:

In libertarian and pro-gold circles, it is common to hear that "gold has intrinsic value." That sentiment is based on an important kernel of truth, although the wording is colloquial rather than precise; like the commonplace use of "weight" in situations where "mass" is meant or saying "the sun rises in the east" (when the Earth rotates instead), the assertion that "gold has intrinsic value" is true informally but not technically – in the case of value, because a necessary element is assumed and left unspoken. Because the informal meaning seems clear, I have been surprised to find frequent and often heated discussion on the topic, but then gold itself is an emotional topic for several reasons. The argument over gold's "intrinsic value" would be simply a minor squabble over semantics except for one thing: the question of gold's value, or lack thereof, is sometimes used to support positions that are not only wrong but actively harmful. Given the importance of gold to human well-being – a subject I expand upon below – and also given that I have used the phrase "gold has intrinsic value" myself, perhaps it is time to address the topic directly and to clarify my meaning.

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I Don't Mind If You Keep Voting, But Do You Mind If I Keep Laughing While You Do? (Wilt Aston)

Wilt Aston provides a nice summary on why you shouldn't vote, and includes a great bibliography for further reading:

"It is the continuing decline in faith in the politicization of society that has, for well over a year, made the 2008 presidential race the preoccupation of the mainstream media. The media must continue to advertise the products and services of the establishment owners, just as it does for the sellers of prescription drugs and other nostrums. Still, the outcome of the 2008 election will confirm the truth of the proposition that it really doesn't matter for whom you vote. Regardless of whether Obama or McCain prevails, the government will be re-elected, and will continue to increase its powers over you. Should you remain dissatisfied with the behavior of the system, the media will be right back to begin its campaign on behalf of "Election 2010," urging you, once again, to continue supporting the process that continues to frustrate your expectations. In the words of Emma Goldman, ‘if voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal.’”

~ Butler Shaffer from the Blog

There are some questions that tend to recur whenever one talks to almost anyone outside the realm of radical libertarianism. Actually, these questions seem to recur not only in debates with statists, but also in debates among those who share a radical libertarian, i.e., market anarchistic, point of view. One such question is the sanctity of the democratic process, voting and all that.

Is voting a necessity for a free society or simply busy-work for the unwashed proletariat, completed while the rulers continue to do what they’ve always done?

Read the rest

Monday, August 25, 2008

Freedom is Golden (Ron Paul)

Ron Paul's latest Texas Straight Talk on freedom and the Olympics:

As the Olympics wind down, I am amazed at how things change every four years. Many Americans were glued to their televisions to watch the excitement from Beijing, and also heard announcers wax nostalgic with memories of times when the Soviet Union was the USA's biggest competitor for Olympic gold. There was a time when it was unthinkable that a government as powerful as that of the Soviet Union's could possibly crumble, yet crumble it did. The irony is that the strength of the Soviet government was also its weakness, as no country, no economic system can remain strong under the crushing burden that is central planning.

Central Planning is sold to a hopeful people as a way to solve societal problems, to right wrongs, and bring about perfect justice and equality. Central Planning promises you everything you are entitled to. As a bonus, goods and services produced by others are added to the list of commodities that everyone has a "right" to. Suddenly everyone is entitled to healthcare, housing, education, food, et cetera. It might sound nice that the state will magically provide all these wonderful things, but these rosy promises mask a dehumanizing, ugly reality. The other side of these entitlements is that now the doctor, the builder, the teacher, the farmer are slaves to the all-powerful state. No longer do they serve patients, students, or customers. They work in complete obedience to the state, their only customer.

Central planning will tell you that you are entitled to many things. Liberty tells you that you are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; to whatever you earn, and nothing that you don't. While it may seem harsh to some, we must look to basic economic truths and to history to see which model is cruel and which model is kind.

The truth is that central planning cannot provide for economic success like freedom can. Central planning makes promises it cannot possibly keep. We live in a world of unlimited wants and limited resources. If you put a massive and powerful government in charge of distributing those resources, it is not a surprise that government and those in bed with government are first in line for those resources. The poor and the middle class – the most hopeful and trusting – are hurt the most, as the state always underestimates their needs and overestimates their ability to pay taxes and absorb inflation.

The Soviet Union's collapse is a dramatic example of the failure of central planning. Americans celebrated this collapse, not only because it meant less competition for Olympic gold, but it provided hope that with the end of the Cold War, our policy makers could drastically reduce overseas commitments and out of control military budgets. Most especially, we celebrated because with the collapse of Soviet communism it was apparent that liberty, not central planning, is stronger. Freedom empowers the individual. Central planning dehumanizes the masses. There may always be a struggle for power and government, but for this reason, freedom will always win out in the end. And as we celebrate the accomplishments of our individual athletes in Beijing this year, we must continue to go for the gold here at home, and keep the flames of liberty burning bright.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Of Moose and Pit Bulls: Understanding America's Military (Fred Reed)

The always interesting Fred Reed likens the insane U.S. foreign policy to "an aging pit bull trying to encircle a herd of moose":

I wonder whether the United States hadn’t ought to re-ponder the place of the military in society and in the world. There is not the slightest chance that this will happen, but wondering has not yet been forbidden. It appears to me that bureaucratic clotting set in years back, and is now having its effect in spheres martial. A robust economy can afford frivolities that one in derobustion cannot. And that is where America is.

The US military is the military of World War II, but with better technology. The Navy still consists of carriers surrounded by ships intended to protect the carriers. The heart of the army is still armored and infantry divisions with artillery and close-air support. The Air Force too. All are designed to fight enemies like themselves. However, there are no enemies like themselves, and WWII forces do not well fight the enemies they do have, such as ragtag dispersed guerrillas, because they are not intended to fight them.

Why a World War II military? Because of institutional inertia, because men delight in fast, powerful things that make loud and stirring noises, because the ships and tanks and submarines are magnificent. Relinquishing them is too painful to contemplate.

Read the rest

Biden: From The Dark Heart of DC (Lew Rockwell Podcast)

In his latest podcast, Lew Rockwell discusses Obama's atrocious choice for running mate (he should have listened to Fred Reed and picked Jim Webb), the Olympics, the fiasco in Georgia, and other current events. Check it out!

Skyscrapers and Business Cycles (Mark Thornton)

Mark Thornton makes an interesting case that the building of large skyscrapers is a good indicator of an over-inflated economy ready to crash:

The skyscraper index, created by economist Andrew Lawrence shows a correlation between the construction of the world's tallest building and the business cycle. Is this just a coincidence, or perhaps do skyscrapers cause business cycles? A theoretical foundation of "Cantillon effects" for the skyscraper index is provided here showing how the basic components of skyscraper construction such as technology are related to key theoretical concepts in economics such as the structure of production. The findings, empirical and theoretical, suggest that the business-cycle theory of the Austrian School of economics has much to contribute to our understanding of business cycles, particularly severe ones.

Read the rest, or listen to the MP3, or listen to the author interviewed by Lew Rockwell.

The Demise of Conscience (Jacob Hornberger)

Jacob Hornberger on how the consciences of many Americans have become subordinate to the unquestioned decisions of the thugs in D.C.:

As libertarians have long pointed out, both the welfare state and the warfare state have brought immeasurable damage to our country.

With its various programs of confiscatory taxation of income and capital to accomplish its coercive redistribution of wealth, the welfare state has brought standards of living lower than otherwise would have been the case. This is especially true for those at the bottom of the economic ladder, who oftentimes spend large portions of their lives as dependent wards of the state rather than as productive, self-reliant people in society.

The damage from the warfare state has been even greater: terrorist blowback, torture, rendition, suspension of habeas corpus and civil liberties, disregard of constitutional constraints on power, wars of aggression and foreign occupations, governmental secrecy, assaults on privacy, and, of course, an ever-growing military-industrial complex.

Together, the welfare state and the warfare state have produced out-of-control federal spending, which has resulted in an endless cycle of financial, monetary, and economic crises, most recently demonstrated by the home-mortgage crisis and the 50 percent drop in the value of the dollar during the past five years alone.

Another adverse consequence – perhaps the most important – has been the demise of individual conscience among the American people, which has accompanied the rise of the welfare-warfare state.

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Georgian Forum (Bob Higgs)

Bob Higgs on the military-industrial-congressional complex and the fiasco in Georgia:

Well, maybe it's not really so funny, especially if someone you care about has been killed or wounded in the recent fray in the South Caucasus, but corporate shareholders who are heavily invested in U.S. military-contractor stocks are laughing all the way to the bank. In their world, nothing makes for success as much as a little shooting and looting in a U.S. client state next door to Russia.

Everyone who has spent more than five minutes perusing the data on U.S. military contracts understands that the big bucks are still to be made in the production of high-tech, cutting-edge, whiz-bang weapons platforms of the sort that enriched several generations of contractors during the Cold War. But – damn it! – the Cold War had the impudence to dry up and blow away back in the early 1990s, seemingly never to return. Of course, the contractors could always direct their wiles and their lobbying budgets toward reminding members of Congress that we never know when another Big Bad Enemy will pop up. For a while China was the favorite emerging threat to serve up at defense-industry banquets and military-association get-togethers. Yet, coming up with a truly convincing replacement for the USSR proved to be an extraordinarily difficult task. China appeared to be more interested in supplying Wal-Mart and bankrolling the U.S. Treasury than in attacking the United States.

Read the rest

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Real Cost of a Full Bailout (Don Rich)

Don Rich makes the case that the real costs to taxpayers for the bailout of Frannie and Freddie could reach 2.5 trillion dollars:

A recent study from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has zero credibility. It pegged likely taxpayer losses in the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailouts at $25 billion. For those with a sense of history, it is worth remembering that the S&L bailout had a $160 billion price tag. The numbers diverge so far from reality as to be laugh-out-loud funny. Funny, that is, except that the CBO estimate demonstrates a willful disconnect with the actual consequences of federal government actions.

As demonstrated below, the real cost of the bailouts will easily exceed $1.3 trillion. In fact, the real cost is likely to range between $1.3 trillion to $1.6 trillion, and is not unlikely to reach $2.5 trillion.

Read the rest

Don't Call The Police: They'll Sue You (William Grigg)

William Grigg on the tragic case of Karen Mies, who is being sued by cops who were injured while attempting to shoot her son:

Karen Mies, a 66-year-old hospice nurse from Shingle Springs, California, has suffered losses no mother and wife should endure.

A year ago this past June, her husband, 72-year-old Arthur, was killed in an entirely unanticipated act of irrational violence. The killer was Karen and Arthur's 35-year-old son Eddie, regarded by friends as a gentle and unassuming man who in recent years had displayed symptoms of depression and other serious mental afflictions. Eddie was killed in an armed stand-off involving the local SWAT team, a helicopter from the California Helicopter Patrol, and several deputies from the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department.

More than one hundred rounds were fired in the June 5, 2007 shoot-out that one neighbor likened to the Gunfight at the OK Corral. In addition to the deaths of Arthur and Eddie, three deputies -- Jon Yaws, Greg Murphy, and Melissa Meekma -- suffered gunshot wounds, as did a police dog named Donder.

Read the rest

I.O.U.S.A.nswers (B.J. Lawson)

B.J. Lawson reviews his night at the movies:

We had a standing-room crowd at the I.O.U.S.A. premiere in Raleigh, North Carolina this evening. Two auditoriums were sold out — both the one sponsored by our campaign, as well as the regular showing. The movie provided an excellent overview of the “fiscal cancer” that David Walker, former head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), has been courageously discussing for the past several years. The discussion about addressing these issues, however, is just beginning — and will be much more controversial.

Read the rest, and also see this somewhat harsher review from the LRC blog, and also this one and this one.

Ron Paul: A Most Unusual Politician (Murray Rothbard)

Murray Rothbard on the strange sight of a man with principle in the den of thieves known as Washington D.C.:

Ron Paul is a most unusual politician – in many ways. In the first place, he really knows what he’s talking about. He is not only for the gold standard. He knows why he is for it, and he is familiar with the most advanced and complex economic insights on the true nature of inflation, on how inflation works, and how inflationary credit expansions brings about booms and busts. And yet Ron has the remarkable ability to take these complex and vital insights and to present them in clear, lucid, hard-hitting terms to the non-economist reader. His economics is as sound as a bell.

But, even more important, Ron Paul is an unusual politician because he doesn’t simply pay lip service to moral principles. He believes in moral principles in his mind and heart, and he fights for them passionately and effectively. High on his set of moral principles is the vital importance of individual freedom, of the individual’s natural right to be free of assault and aggression, and of his right to keep the property that he has earned on the free market, and not have it stolen from him by confiscatory taxes and government regulations.

Ron Paul, in short, is that rare American, and still rarer politician, who deeply understands and battles for the principles of liberty that were fought for and established by the Founding Fathers of this country. He understands that sound economics, moral principles, and individual freedom all go together, like a seamless web. They cannot be separated, and they stand or fall together.

Read the rest

Soldier Worship (Laurence Vance)

Laurence Vance on early 20th century New Testament scholar J. Gresham Machen and his views on imperialism, militarism, and conscription:

Who is J. Gresham Machen and why should we care what he said about imperialism, militarism, and conscription?

John Gresham Machen (1881–1937) was a conservative Presbyterian New Testament scholar who taught at Princeton Theological Seminary from 1906–1929. Because he believed that the seminary had left its historic theological position, Machen left Princeton in 1929 and founded Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, teaching there until his untimely death in 1937.

Machen was widely recognized in his day as one of the most scholarly and zealous defenders of conservative Protestantism. His most enduring works are The Origin of Paul’s Religion (1921), The Virgin Birth of Christ (1930), Christianity and Liberalism (1923), and New Testament Greek for Beginners (1923), all of which are still in print today.

Machen was not a pacifist, and neither was he connected in any way with one of the historic peace churches. He was the epitome of an orthodox, conservative Christian. And that is why we should care about what he said about imperialism, militarism, and conscription. Too many Christians today believe that a conservative Christian should identify politically with the conservative movement, which today generally supports war, militarism, and an aggressive U.S. foreign policy – at least when a Republican president is in charge.

Read the rest

Disarm (Lew Rockwell)

Lew Rockwell on the lessons we can learn from the fiasco in the Caucasus:

George Bush, with the clock ticking down the last months of his presidency, nearly started yet another war that might have escalated in the manner of World War I: a diplomatic failure backed by arms that resulted in a superpower clash.

It is a wonder that the world has survived his "war on terror," which turned out to be a war on American liberty and anyone in the world who got on his nerves. His confrontation with Russia in defense of a belligerent little client state of the US could have sealed his fate and ours too.

We need to examine Bush's actions and see how the US nearly stumbled into a calamity. For in the last weeks, we have gained a picture of the future with this continued push for a secure American world empire with its endless webs of payments, relationships, jockeying for power and treasure, and a diplomatic corps honeycombed with belligerents and lobbyists for foreign governments. The peace, such as it is, can be shattered through small screwups that will end in massive death.

Make no mistake about it: the flare-up was caused entirely by US diplomatic failures.

Read the rest

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Rot Our Rulers Have Wrought (William Grigg)

William Grigg likens our economy to an elevator cable that has snapped, sending it and all of its occupants towards the inevitable crash. An excerpt:

Banks are failing with the hebdomadal consistency of a politician's election-year church attendance. The rot spreading through the banking industry is quickly destroying the foundations of some very large institutions: Merrill Lynch and Wachovia are in severe peril of failure, with write-offs much larger than assets on hand.

The familiar prescription, of course, is more "liquidity" from the Fed, but this is the main vector along which the contagion is spread. Stock values for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are collapsing as investors accelerate the inevitable outcome -- a decline in share price to zero. This result will most likely come as the result of a federal bail-out, a prospect clearly anticipated in the rescue bill enacted just weeks ago.

The corporatocracy in charge of Fannie and Freddie are being sheltered from their own criminal incompetence and malignant dishonesty. How criminally incompetent were they, you ask?

Read the rest

If possible, don't visit the United States (Wendy McElroy)

Wendy McElroy on the "Land of the Free":

Emily Feder's piece entitled "At JFK Airport, Denying Basic Rights Is Just Another Day at the Office" on Alternet is excellent in a bone-chilling way. Feder writes,

I was recently stopped by Homeland Security as I was returning from a trip to Syria. What I saw in the hours that followed shocked and disturbed me. She concludes, In the past five years I have worked for human rights and refugee advocacy organizations in Serbia, Russia and Croatia, including the International Rescue Committee and USAID. I have traveled to many different places, some supposedly repressive, and have never seen people treated with the kind of animosity that Homeland Security showed that night. In Syria, border control officers were stern but polite. At other borders there have been bureaucracies to contend with -- excruciating for both Americans and other foreign nationals. I've met Russian officials with dead, suspicious looks in their eyes and arms tired from stamping so many visas, but in America, the Homeland Security officials I encountered were very much alive -- like vultures waiting to eat.

Feder's observations accord with my own, far more limited travel experiences. Even the customs guards in Communist China were professional and polite (in a bored way) compared to almost every American security or customs official I've encountered. Travel agents up here (in Canada) say that one of the most common requests they hear is "How do I avoid making a connection in the U.S.?" Going through an American aiport is like being processed through a prison or an animal stockyard. And Feder is correct; one of the most unsettling aspects is that American guards are not just doing a job; they seem to be emotionally invested in it and swollen with an arrogant enjoyment of authority.

Read the rest

Doubts over the anthrax case intensify -- except among much of the media (Glenn Greenwald)

Glenn Greenwald on the FBI's highly dubious accusations surrounding Bruce Ivins and the anthrax case:

The more that is revealed about the FBI's still largely-secret case against Bruce Ivins, the more doubts that are raised about whether their accusations are true. A particularly vivid episode illustrating how shoddy the FBI's case seems to be occurred in the last several days.

Read the rest

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Economics in One Lesson: Part 1

Jeff Tucker interviews Walter Block on the new Mises Institute edition of Henry Hazlitt's fantastic Economics in One Lesson:


Lawson for Congress Campaign Kickoff

Here's B.J. Lawson at his official campaign kickoff August 14:


Back in the USSA (William Grigg)

William Grigg weighs in on the Georgia/Russia conflict, and includes an interesting introduction on possibly the greatest wrestler of all time, the great Alexander Karelin. An excerpt:

After winning his first gold medal in Seoul in 1988, Karelin acquired the cultural clout to defy the Soviet Communist Party, at a time when such defiance was still a very risky proposition. Shortly thereafter he asked his mother to renounce her Party membership, which she did.

Karelin's study of Solzhenitsyn's work had taught him, quite properly, to loathe Communism, but it left him hurting and puzzled: "[A] lot inside me was ruined by trusting in the society where I live. After reading this, I had nothing left. I wondered, Are there no white spots in our history, only black? My whole country is in perpetual funeral."

Patriots of many countries, our own emphatically included, can empathize with Karelin. It is natural to love one's country. It is just as natural for informed people to despise the government that rules them. Many Russian patriots who became politically aware shortly before the end of the Soviet Union were put into an exceptionally painful position: As much as they loved their country, they couldn't feel proud of it.

That's the predicament confronting well-informed, principled patriots living in the proto-Soviet USA.

Read the rest

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Government Projects do not "Create Jobs" (Isaac Morehouse)

Isaac Morehouse says don't believe the myth that state "job creation" actually gives a "boost to the economy":

Yesterday while driving I heard an ad on the radio promoting more state spending on roads. Besides being a bit overreaching ("Is my family really safe with our current roads?") the idea of better managed and maintained roads makes some sense and I thought the ad had a decent point — especially as I rumbled over potholes and hoped not to end up in a major traffic jam like last week.

There are potential improvements that can be made to Michigan's roads just by changing how things are run (and who runs them) without necessarily increasing road spending. Additionally, there are many ways the state could do the same things for less money. (Check out this Mackinac Center study.)

The radio ad made the point that better roads are safer — OK. Then it said better roads make it easier for businesses to operate in the state — fine. But it committed a logical and economic error when it claimed, "State spending on road projects will create jobs and boost our economy." That's only half of the story.

State projects may create jobs, but the proper question is, do they create wealth?

Read the rest

How Foreign Policy Affects Gas Prices (Ron Paul)

Ron Paul's latest Texas Straight Talk:

We've heard how the value of the dollar affects gas prices – and indeed the price of everything. I was pleased that my request for a hearing on such was granted by the Financial Services committee and we were able to hear some very informative testimony. Certainly domestic policies, regarding off-shore oil drilling bans, ethanol mandates, refining capacity, and CAFE standards are interventionist and harmful enough in the energy market.

But how does foreign policy affect gas prices? One important factor is that oil on the world market has been priced in dollars exclusively since 1973. Only two leaders have gone against this arrangement - Saddam Hussein in 2000 and more recently Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with the recently opened Iranian Oil Bourse which trades in non-dollar currencies. But since oil is otherwise exclusively traded in dollars, this means that oil producers have vast amounts of assets held in dollars. Especially since the War on Terror and the PATRIOT Act, many oil-producing nations and banks are concerned the US government may freeze assets based on flimsy pretexts. This fear contributes to dollar weakness, and therefore also high oil prices.

Recently I and other members of Congress spoke out against H Con Res 362 and exposed this seemingly innocuous bill for what it really is – a call for a blockade and a build up to war with Iran. Thankfully it has not come to the floor for a vote as I had fully expected it would. But to even propose legislation like this, and get an alarming 261 cosponsors, makes the oil markets jittery and encourages more capital flight from the dollar. We only isolate ourselves on the world stage with actions and attitudes like this. After all, how can it be wise for the rest of the world to bank on America, when we tend to freeze assets and blockade entire countries for no good reason?

Another major factor is our intervention in international military conflicts. These conflicts are often much more complicated, and have more to do with oil than our own leaders are willing to acknowledge. Too often the side we support points our weapons right back at us down the road. The best policy is always free trade with all and entangling alliances with none, but instead we isolate ourselves by picking sides and making enemies out of our friends or potential friends. In the recent conflict with Russia and Georgia, it appears that once again the administration is going to pick sides and send taxpayer money, when we are in a deep recession here at home. There is no good reason for us to put a dog in every fight around the world.

The contributing factors in the price of oil are complicated and legion. The fact is, it is an immensely valuable resource, and, as our demand for this resource is great, our relationships with world leaders who control it should be handled with reason and intelligence. However, our interventionist mindset when it comes to foreign policy never ceases to get us into sticky situations, for which we pay a premium at the gas pump.

Monday, August 18, 2008

By Their Fruits You Shall Know Them (Paul Hein)

Paul Hein on war and economic injustice being tragic consequences of government:

For those of us who question the necessity, or desirability, of government, the incessant media blather about the November election is depressing. How can the people who listen raptly to this campaign news possibly take it seriously? In the lifetime of anyone alive today, has any election made a significant difference? If the President were to take his oath of office seriously, would it matter who he was? Or, if, as is the case, he ignores his oath of office, does it make any difference who he is? In my long lifetime I have seen American government grow increasingly totalitarian, regardless of election results. Whether the elected are liberal, conservative, Democrats or Republicans, the trend is increasingly leftward.

The idea of government is so ingrained that most people have simply never given a fleeting thought to the possibility of life without it. Like disease, it’s been around forever. In school we might have learned something of ancient Greece or Roman history, but what we learned was not the life of a typical Greek or Roman, but the activities of Greek and Roman governments, and their battles for control. In short, the study of ancient – and not so ancient – civilizations is the study of war, without which history books would be little more than pamphlets.

Read the rest

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Campaign Against Torture (B.J. Lawson)

Dr. B.J. Lawson on why Congress could use a few more doctors among its members:

Physicians for Human Rights has launched a campaign Broken Laws, Broken Lives to document medical evidence of torture, and raise awareness of torture experienced by detainees in American custody. The Preface to their report is written by Major General Antonio Taguba (USA, Ret), who led the US Army’s official investigation into the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal and testified before Congress on his findings in May, 2004. From his Preface:

This report tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individuals’ lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors.

The profiles of these eleven former detainees, none of whom were ever charged with a crime or told why they were detained, are tragic and brutal rebuttals to those who claim that torture is ever justified. Through the experiences of these men in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, we can see the full scope of the damage this illegal and unsound policy has inflicted—both on America’s institutions and our nation’s founding values, which the military, intelligence services, and our justice system are duty-bound to defend.

The full report is deeply troubling, and recommended reading. How can we, as Americans, reach a point of desperation such that we accept, rationalize, and even encourage subhuman behavior? Is there any evidence that information obtained through torture is accurate, or valuable? How is American security enhanced by our abandoning respect for basic human rights?

Read the rest

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lew Rockwell Podcasts

If you haven't been listening, Lew Rockwell has been doing some fantastic interviews on his daily podcasts! I highly recommend checking back each day for an enlighening dose of Austrian Economics!

Inflation Research as Propaganda (Per Bylund)

Per Bylund on why both the state and the economics profession use an obviously flawed definition of inflation:

There should be no surprise to readers of that the State statistics on inflation seek to cover up most of the problem. However, this article is not on government statistics (or propaganda, which is probably a better word for it) but on economics research on the phenomenon of inflation. Libertarians as well as Austrian economists would agree that inflation is a problem that needs to be dealt with (i.e., government needs to stop meddling with the economy), and we often tell the story of how inflation "eats up" wealth and creates imbalances in the market place while offering great opportunities for the State to increase its powers and further strengthen its hold on our society.

We often stress that the definition of inflation used by both the State and the economics profession is "incorrect" and that the "general increase in price levels" definition should be replaced by the Austrian "increase in money supply" definition. It is true that the latter is a whole lot more correct in both explaining and describing the problem while pinpointing what is really going on and how these problems could be overcome. However, it is not simply the fact that the generally accepted definition is "wrong" – it is also "evil" in that it includes quite a bit of propaganda for State control of the marketplace and the rest of society.

Read the rest, and don't miss Per's excellent commentary on the article.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Great Gold Robbery of 1933 (Tom Woods)

Tom Woods on the theft "authorized" by the Emergency Banking Act of 1933 (an interesting side note made in the article is that members of Congress didn't even read the bill; does that sound familiar?)

It's been 75 years since the federal government, on the spurious grounds of fighting the Great Depression, ordered the confiscation of all monetary gold from Americans, permitting trivial amounts for ornamental or industrial use. This happens to be one of the episodes Kevin Gutzman and I describe in detail in our new book, Who Killed the Constitution? The Fate of American Liberty from World War I to George W. Bush. From the point of view of the typical American classroom, on the other hand, the incident may as well not have occurred.

A key piece of legislation in this story is the Emergency Banking Act of 1933, which Congress passed on March 9 without having read it and after only the most trivial debate.

Read the rest

'Poor Little Georgia' – Not! (Justin Raimondo)

Justin Raimondo on the real history of Georgia and Ossetia:

The commander in chief of America's laptop bombardiers, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, can always be counted on to reveal not only the content of the neoconservative party line, but also, in so many words, the impulse that motivates it. In his latest peroration from his perch at the New York Times, the intellectual architect of our disastrous war in Iraq lays out a rationale for yet another catastrophic blunder in the foreign policy realm, this time in the Caucasus:

"In August 1924, the small nation of Georgia, occupied by Soviet Russia since 1921, rose up against Soviet rule. On Sept. 16, 1924, The Times of London reported on an appeal by the president of the Georgian Republic to the League of Nations. While 'sympathetic reference to his country's efforts was made' in the Assembly, the Times said, 'it is realized that the League is incapable of rendering material aid, and that the moral influence which may be a powerful force with civilized countries is unlikely to make any impression upon Soviet Russia.'

"'Unlikely' was an understatement. Georgians did not enjoy freedom again until 1991."

You get the idea: in Kristol's world, Putin's Russia is Stalin's USSR, and poor, doe-like little Georgia – a bastion of freedom – is in danger of being devoured by the insatiable Russian bear. Meanwhile, the world stands by, helpless, as appeals are made to a nation impervious to the very concept of morality.

Read the rest, and also see Anthony Gregory's take on the conflict.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Must the Government Combat Americans’ Addiction to Foreign Bananas? (Bob Higgs)

Bob Higgs on the silly notion of "energy independence":

Americans, we are told again and again, are “addicted to foreign oil” and “in love with the automobile.” These phrases are so common in news commentaries that they glide past our intellect almost unnoticed. Yet, they are the sheerest claptrap, and the arguments that accompany them are a waste of the electrons required to carry them along in the World Wide Web.

Suppose a serious policy of “energy independence” were actually implemented, rather than being merely spewed out along with the rest of the political hot air. Would we be better off? Absolutely not. We would be vastly poorer because we would have to sacrifice a great deal more of the non-oil products we now produce and consume in order to acquire the petroleum products we demanded.

Read the rest

Who Was Edward M. House? (Bob Higgs)

Bob Higgs on Edward House, one of the most powerful Americans of the 20th century who most people have never heard of:

Edward M. House, a man now almost completely forgotten, was one of the most important Americans of the twentieth century. Given that most high school seniors do not know that the War Between the States was fought sometime between 1850 and 1900, we cannot reasonably expect many people to recognize his name today, much less to know anything about him. I suspect that scarcely anyone except a smattering of history teachers and a few history mavens can accurately state why House was an important figure in U.S. history. Yet he arguably had a greater impact on the past century than all but a handful of other actors.

Read the rest

Going for the Heart (Lew Rockwell)

Lew Rockwell on the unquestioned "necessity" of central banks:

The heart of the modern state is the central bank. By heart I mean the very thing that makes it work, and without which the modern state would quickly wither and die. It is the thing that makes the money. As such, it purports to be our stabilizer, our source of employment, the fuel behind the economic growth that brings us technology.

In truth, it does none of these things. What it does do effectively is prop up the leviathan state and all its pomps. You would never know this from the textbook, of course. The subject is rarely mentioned in political science. Historians treat the establishment of the Fed as an event far less important than the creation of the Department of Labor.

It is interesting how rarely its existence is ever questioned, much less condemned. Instead, the head of the central bank is fawned over and courted by all sides of the political spectrum. He enjoys a level of immunity from criticism that no one else in politics has. Again, this is proof of the extent to which we do not believe in authentic freedom, since it is the central bank that is the true source of the decline of our freedom.

Read the rest

Teach children to fear the police (Wendy McElroy)

Wendy McElroy on a horrific episode of police brutality:

On Feb. 14, 2003, Sergeant Clinton Shawn Sydnor, Deputy Jailors Wesley Lanham and Shawn Freeman (along with other deputies who have not been named) were on duty when an 18-year-old high school student was brought into the detention center in Grant County, Kentucky. The charge against the boy was speeding -- a traffic offense. According to several reports --for example, MarketWatch -- the deputies teased the teenager about his physical appearance. I assume he 'talked back' to them because the indictment against the 3 officers (to which Sydnor pleaded guilty last Wednesday) accused them of soliciting "a group of convicted felons housed in a general population cell to sexually assault the teenager, who was locked up overnight on traffic citations." According to another report the officers merely solicited the felons to intimidate the boy with Sydnor admitting in court that "he knew the teen faced a threat from the other inmates, and that he deliberately ignored that danger. Sydnor also admitted that he had other officers falsify reports relating to the incident."

On December 8th, Sydnor is expected to be sentenced to 15 years on charges of conspiracy and a civil rights violation. He could have faced a life sentence but he flipped on the other two officers and agreed to testify against them. The two remaining defendants also face life in prison if found guilty.

Where were the other unnamed officers when the teenager cried out in agony from the cage into which they threw him like meat to animals? Where were they when his family asked for justice and got falsified reports instead? Every so-called honest officer who ignored or covered-up this incident was a participant in it. For every one thug with a badge there are probably 10 honest cops who co-operate with and facilitate the thuggery. This is a difference of degree, not of kind; these are not 'honest' cops. Teach your sons and daughters to fear the police.

(Note: Also see William Grigg's take on the case)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Short-Sale Restrictions Are an Exercise in Naked Power (Bob Murphy)

Bob Murphy on the much maligned practice of "naked" short selling:

On July 29, the SEC announced that it would extend its original 10-day restriction on "naked" short sales of 19 major financial companies through August 12. Analysts across the board agree that this particular SEC rule, by itself, will have little effect except to raise transaction costs for those wishing to short Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and other powerhouses.

However, in conjunction with the Fed's recent lending operations to investment banks and Fannie and Freddie, the restriction on naked short sales makes perfect sense as part of a process of getting the public used to federal/private partnerships that would have been unthinkable before the credit crisis — especially from a "laissez-faire" administration.

In this article, I'll explain short selling (and the "naked" variant), its benefits to the market economy, and the harm from arbitrary government restrictions on the activity. I'll close by speculating on the possible motivation for the government to engage in an apparently pointless gesture.

Read the rest

The Real Aggressor (Justin Raimondo)

Justin Raimondo on the real story behind the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia:

The anti-Russian bias of the Western media is really something to behold: "Russia Invades Georgia," "Russia Attacks Georgia," and variations thereof have been some of the choice headlines reporting events in the Caucasus, but the reality is not only quite different, but the exact opposite. Sometimes this comes out in the third or fourth paragraph of the reportage, in which it is admitted that the Georgians tried to "retake" the "breakaway province" of South Ossetia. The Georgian bombing campaign and the civilian casualties – if they are mentioned at all – are downplayed and presented as subject to dispute.

The Georgians have been openly engaging in a military buildup since last year, and President Mikhail Saakashvili and his party have been proclaiming from the rooftops their aim of re-conquering South Ossetia (and rebellious Abkhazia, while they're at it)

Read the rest

Other Times and Ways (Fred Reed)

In the spirit of Henry David Thoreau's Walden, Fred Reed yearns for a bit of peace and quiet, which is nearly impossible to find in today's world:

When I ponder our curiously unbalanced civilization, able to put golf carts on Mars but unable to equal the verse of muddy Elizabethan London, I wonder why we are as we are. In all things technological the United States is magnificent, the Athens of solid-state physics. Yet the great orchestras die unlistened to, we have no Shakespeare or Dante nor notion why we might want them, and religious expression grows mute, or crabbed and hostile. Why?

I think the answer is that our surroundings determine not just what we think, but what we can think. We live in cities urban but not urbane, among screaming sirens, in air grayed by exhaust and wracked by the blattings of buses. The complaint is not invalid for being trite. I cannot imagine a Whitman composing in a shopping mall.

The rush and complexity of everything take their toll. As a people we might well be called The Unrelaxed. And, therefore, the Uncontemplative.

Read the rest

What's in a Bill Name? (Ron Paul)

Ron Paul says never judge a bill by its title:

Recently Congress passed the American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act., also known as the Housing Bill. Its passage was lauded by many who are legitimately concerned about foreclosures and the housing market in our country's economy. I was asked how I could vote against a bill to help American homeowners, but I found this bill to have more to do with helping big banks than helping average Americans.

The answer is that there is more to any bill than its name or the headlines surrounding it. If one only paid attention to bill titles, one could happily vote for almost any bill put to a vote on the floor. Titles do not tell the complete story of a bill's provisions, and many titles are downright deceptive and come close to emotional blackmail of legislators. But we cannot afford to be fooled by fancy titles. The housing bill could perhaps be more aptly named The Big Banking Bailout at Taxpayer Expense Act as large sections of it were written by big banking lobbyists according to Evans and Novak reporter Tim Carney's Capitol Hill sources. At least that title would be honest.

Also, many of these magnanimous sounding foreign aid bills and so-called human rights resolutions have counterproductive and hypocritical language tucked into the fine print. The recent bill on China was a good example. This resolution calls on China to hold meetings with the Dalai Lama without preconditions, when that is something our own government will not do with Iran. How our government has the authority to tell China what to do it beyond me, especially when we demand something so hypocritical. On foreign aid bills and legislation that on the surface seems very charitable, upon closer examination we find strings attached and a lot of manipulation of the marketplace. Many times, these bills purport to help the destitute, but actually help multinational corporations or prop up dictators that might otherwise be deposed by their people.

The other point to take into consideration on legislation and House resolutions is that intentions are not enough. It is not enough to want to solve a problem with legislation, and name a bill to that effect. The crafters of the legislation need to demonstrate a clear and honest understanding of the problem, in order to put forward a realistic strategy to solving it. Too many times, I just don't see that. Instead I see more taxes, more restrictions, more violations of the Constitution, and more unintended consequences.

One shouldn't judge legislation based on titles, good intentions, or what someone says the bill will do. Imagine if all the legislation in the history of this country actually did what the title of the bills proclaimed they would do. How very different this country would be! There would be no poverty, no drugs, no crime. In fact if it was that easy, Congress by now would have probably repealed the law of gravity, and supply and demand as well, and replaced them with unlimited wealth and given all Americans the power of flight. What a fanciful world our legislators live in at times!

Though I am at times accused of being mean-spirited regarding the many bills I vote against, I don't so much think of my vote as against the legislation, as much as FOR the Constitution, according to my duties as a Congressman.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

You Belong to Us (Tom Woods)

Tom Woods on the movement towards mandatory "National Service," which is just slavery with a different name:

In late 2007, Richard Stengel wrote a cover story for Time magazine calling for a massive national service program to be imposed on American young people. If you’d like to read it, knock yourself out. Someone probably needs to smash it, but the avalanche of propaganda and nationalism you’ll find there was too demoralizing for me to attempt it. The very idea that helping someone in your neighborhood should be called "service to the nation" should be spooky and Orwellian enough, but for many people I guess it isn’t.

One thing I couldn’t get out of my head, even though it’s not by any means the weirdest aspect of the program, is Stengel’s proposal for a Cabinet-level Department of National Service. I think it was this piece of advice that struck me the most: "And don’t appoint a gray bureaucrat to this job; make it someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Mike Bloomberg, who would capture the imagination of the public."

Translation: the American people, too stupid to engage in government-approved service projects without being prodded by their betters, need a crowd-pleasing Hollywood actor to rouse them to action. Bloomberg, possibly the dullest human being in public life, would be a better choice than Schwarzenegger from my point of view: the American people would barely be able to keep awake through one of his droning appeals.

Read the rest

Saturday, August 9, 2008

August 9, 1945, a Date that Will Live in Infamy (Bob Higgs)

Bob Higgs remembers the criminal atomic bombing of Nagasaki 63 years ago today:

I note with sadness that today is the sixty-third anniversary of the U.S. explosion of an atomic bomb over Nagasaki, Japan. The explosion killed an estimated 40,000 to 75,000 persons immediately, and perhaps as many as 80,000 died by the end of 1945 from the effects of their wounds and radiation sickness. Nearly all of the victims were civilians.

President Truman ordered this attack even though Japan was already effectively defeated. It possessed no capability to harm Americans in their home territory, and its surrender was only a matter of time, especially in light of the Soviet Union’s declaration of war against Japan on August 9, four days after its unilateral abrogation of the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact, and its initiation of military actions against Japanese forces in Manchuria. Japan, not yet a rich country, was militarily and economically exhausted from the wars in which it had been engaged since 1937. The Japanese government sought only reasonable terms, including retention of the emperor as the nation’s supreme political authority.

Any “point” the United States government sought to make about its newly devised military power, whether to the Japanese or to the Soviets, had already been made all too well by its devastating explosion of an atomic bomb over Hiroshima three days earlier. The decision to drop the second bomb must be condemned by every decent person as a gratuitous criminal act. The U.S. armed forces had already killed hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians by fire-bombing the highly flammable houses and other structures in which the people lived and worked. To kill another huge number of people–men, women, and children, prisoners of war, foreigners, and other innocent persons in the city–was a war crime, plain and simple. That many Americans continue, even today, to defend this senseless and flagrantly brutal act is shameful.

Friday, August 8, 2008

BJ Lawson and the New Face of the Ron Paul Revolution (Don Rasmussen)

Campaign for Liberty blogger Don Rasmussen has a nice writeup on pro-freedom congressional candidate B.J. Lawson:

For close observers of American politics, liberal or conservative, the impact of the Ron Paul campaign has been difficult to ignore. Whether one was amazed by the devotion of Paul’s supporters or the seeming callous disregard for the Paul campaign in the “mainstream” media, the impact of Ron Paul’s campaign for president has undoubtedly left its mark on the political landscape.

The exact contours of this landscape are reflected in the scores of candidates running in local congressional and state races. Among these, the campaign of William “B.J.” Lawson in North Carolina’s 4th district stands out for its candidate, organizational success and fund-raising ability.

Originally from Florida, Lawson moved to North Carolina to attend Duke University Medical school. At Duke, he distinguished himself as having a flexible and innovative mind by pioneering the use of translating software allowing doctors to communicate with non-English speaking patients in local hospitals. After graduating from Duke – a feat in and of itself – Lawson successfully started MercuryMD, a business geared towards patient information management for medical residents. The business was successful and routinely resulted in time savings and cost reductions among hospitals adopting the product. Eventually, the business was sold. BJ has quickly learned the part of candidate. He has traded his family man’s jeans and button down shirt, for the wing tips and the smart blue suit of the professional operator. In short, Lawson fits in many ways the ideal of the American self-made man.

Not only is the Lawson campaign blessed with a strong candidate, the organization and fund-raising efforts appear to be far ahead of many other “Ron Paul” republicans. Lawson has assembled a strong bipartisan team of both seasoned political professionals and enthusiastic volunteers. This organization appears to have paid off in terms of both fund-raising and early victory. Lawson’s campaign has raised $175,000 so far – more than three times the amount raised by the previous GOP candidate in his district. This fund-raising has resulted in the decisive defeat of his primary opponent, Augustus Cho, but also due to campaigns superior organization and outreach efforts in the 4th district.

While much of the ultimate future of the many candidates running as Ron Paul republicans will be decided in this November’s elections, if the Lawson campaign continues its forward momentum, the changing political landscape may indeed surprise both liberals and conservatives alike.

Please help Dr. Lawson spread the message of peace and freedom, and if you're in the Raleigh area, make sure to attend the special screening of the movie I.O.U.S.A. on August 21!

Will You Join Me In Minneapolis? (Ron Paul)

An email message from Ron Paul (you can also listen to his audio message):

Dear Friend of Liberty,

I wanted to personally write you today to urge you to make plans to attend my Campaign for Liberty's Rally for the Republic in Minneapolis, MN on September 2.

Our Campaign for Liberty is causing quite a stir in the country's political establishment. The Rally for the Republic will be the official kick off of this organization which will be a true grassroots activists organization dedicated to taking back our freedoms from a government and political establishment run amok.

I urge you to purchase your tickets now, before its too late.

The event is already about two-thirds of the way sold out only a week and a half into ticket sales. Liberty lovers from across the nation are planning their pilgrimages via air, car or Ronvoy, many willing to camp out under the stars just to join us in Minnesota for the historic-to-be Rally for the Republic.

For all the information you need about the Rally please go to You can also click to TicketMaster from there to ensure a guaranteed seat at what I believe will be one of the most important events ever held for lovers of Liberty.

At the Campaign for Liberty's Rally for the Republic you will not only enjoy good entertainment and a festive atmosphere, but more importantly, you will be there on the scenes as the Campaign for Liberty is launched. You will hear from a wide variety of polical leaders and see, for the first time, the unveiling of the plans, goals and mission of the Campaign for Liberty in an exciting presentation by Campaign for Liberty's Executive Director, John Tate.

Again, I urge you to visit and purchase your ticket today -- before they are SOLD OUT!.

Then I'll see you there, at the Target Center, September 2, and we can, together with 13,000 of our closest friends, absorb the words of Grover Norquist, Doug Wead and Barry Goldwater, Jr. We'll also enjoy Tucker Carlson's humor, appreciate the talent of musicians Aimee Allen, Rockie Lynne and others, and best of all, join with me in launching the Campaign for Liberty. Together we will once again show the world that Freedom IS Popular.

In liberty,
Ron Paul

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Nullification: Last Exit Before Insurrection (William Grigg)

William Grigg on jury nullification, one of the last remaining methods we have to prevent absolute despotism, and why Federal "judges" can't stand it:

From Singapore comes the unwelcome news that Gopalan Nair, a blogger who has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Singapore, is on trial for insulting a judge.

This is an unalloyed outrage.

Singapore is an authoritarian city-state notorious for its archaic methods of corporal punishment and its eccentric laws governing "public order." (For instance: Its government enforces both gun control and gum control.) Singapore's reputation for casual acts of despotism that it found itself paired with Iran in -- of all things -- a song by Australia's Little River Band. It's no species of surprise to me to learn that a government of that sort would punish people for criticizing judges.

My outrage is prompted by Nair's priorities. Why would anybody with U.S. citizenship bother to criticize Singaporean judges, when so many American specimens of that disreputable profession are much worthier of abuse?

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Thank God for Elections! (Paul Hein)

Paul Hein on the rulers who have somehow convinced the masses of their "leadership":

It’s not that I expect my life to improve in any way following an election, but that the election marks the end of the campaigns. That, in itself, is more satisfying than the replacement of non-entity A with non-entity B.

Are the various candidates so foolish that they take their campaign rhetoric seriously, or do they simply regard us with such contempt as to give us nothing better than their predictable platitudes? I don’t know, but since candidates for public office are always attuned to what "the people" want, I guess they have determined that their insipid slogans and fifteen-second sound bites are effective in influencing voters. Pathetic!

How often have we heard candidate X hailed as a great leader? Indeed, has there ever been a candidate who was not, or would not become, a great leader?

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The Anthrax Follies and the Bizarro Effect (Justin Raimondo)

Justin Raimondo on why the case against accused anthrax murderer Bruce Ivins is pathetic:

The release of the FBI's "evidence" against Bruce Ivins, the now-deceased Ft. Detrick scientist targeted by the FBI as the alleged culprit in the 2001 anthrax letters case, demonstrates either (1) the FBI is covering for the real culprits, or (2) what we are witnessing is a dramatic drop in the intelligence of the average FBI official – maybe it's something in the water.

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

If Harry Truman was not a war criminal, then no one ever was

Ralph Raico on the war criminal Harry Truman and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki:

The most spectacular episode of Truman’s presidency will never be forgotten, but will be forever linked to his name: the atomic bombings of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and of Nagasaki three days later. Probably around two hundred thousand persons were killed in the attacks and through radiation poisoning; the vast majority were civilians, including several thousand Korean workers. Twelve U.S. Navy fliers incarcerated in a Hiroshima jail were also among the dead.

Great controversy has always surrounded the bombings. One thing Truman insisted on from the start: The decision to use the bombs, and the responsibility it entailed, was his. Over the years, he gave different, and contradictory, grounds for his decision. Sometimes he implied that he had acted simply out of revenge. To a clergyman who criticized him, Truman responded, testily:
Nobody is more disturbed over the use of Atomic bombs than I am but I was greatly disturbed over the unwarranted attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor and their murder of our prisoners of war. The only language they seem to understand is the one we have been using to bombard them.

Such reasoning will not impress anyone who fails to see how the brutality of the Japanese military could justify deadly retaliation against innocent men, women, and children. Truman doubtless was aware of this, so from time to time he advanced other pretexts. On August 9, 1945, he stated: "The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians."

This, however, is absurd.

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The Lies of Hiroshima Live On (John Pilger)

John Pilger on the legacy of perhaps the worst criminal acts in history, the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki:

When I first went to Hiroshima in 1967, the shadow on the steps was still there. It was an almost perfect impression of a human being at ease: legs splayed, back bent, one hand by her side as she sat waiting for a bank to open. At a quarter past eight on the morning of August 6, 1945, she and her silhouette were burned into the granite. I stared at the shadow for an hour or more, then walked down to the river and met a man called Yukio, whose chest was still etched with the pattern of the shirt he was wearing when the atomic bomb was dropped.

He and his family still lived in a shack thrown up in the dust of an atomic desert. He described a huge flash over the city, "a bluish light, something like an electrical short," after which wind blew like a tornado and black rain fell. "I was thrown on the ground and noticed only the stalks of my flowers were left. Everything was still and quiet, and when I got up, there were people naked, not saying anything. Some of them had no skin or hair. I was certain I was dead." Nine years later, when I returned to look for him, he was dead from leukemia.

In the immediate aftermath of the bomb, the allied occupation authorities banned all mention of radiation poisoning and insisted that people had been killed or injured only by the bomb's blast. It was the first big lie. "No radioactivity in Hiroshima ruin" said the front page of the New York Times, a classic of disinformation and journalistic abdication, which the Australian reporter Wilfred Burchett put right with his scoop of the century. "I write this as a warning to the world," reported Burchett in the Daily Express, having reached Hiroshima after a perilous journey, the first correspondent to dare. He described hospital wards filled with people with no visible injuries but who were dying from what he called "an atomic plague." For telling this truth, his press accreditation was withdrawn, he was pilloried and smeared – and vindicated.

The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a criminal act on an epic scale. It was premeditated mass murder that unleashed a weapon of intrinsic criminality. For this reason its apologists have sought refuge in the mythology of the ultimate "good war," whose "ethical bath," as Richard Drayton called it, has allowed the west not only to expiate its bloody imperial past but to promote 60 years of rapacious war, always beneath the shadow of The Bomb.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

"Leave the United States" Redux (Wendy McElroy)

Wendy McElroy follows up on her post suggesting it's time to move out of the country, and says the sense of individualism that once permeated this land is now gone:

An earlier blog post “Leave the United States if you can” in which I urge people to move their persons and wealth out of America has stirred controversy and prompted email inquiries. I want to answer one inquiry in a public manner: namely, “why have you become so pessimistic.”

By nature, I am not a pessimist. Nor am I currently pessimistic about my own life or the prospect of freedom in other areas of the world. But I see little reason for any optimism about freedom or prosperity within the US over the next several years; instead, I see the rise of a totalitarianism that is unparalleled in my experience. I know many people think nothing has fundamentally changed State-side; they believe the economy or society is just going through a bad patch. Perhaps people feel this way because they wake up every morning at the same time beside the same person, they eat a customary breakfast with coffee the way they like it and, then, drive well-known roads to work. Thus, life may be more stressful but it is basically unchanged, and anyone who warns them that a slow car accident is heading their way is an alarmist.

By contrast, I believe the United States has fundamentally changed since 9/11. Although many people’s lives follow the same routine as last year and the year before, I believe the political, economic and social framework that allowed Americans to be the freest and richest people in the world is now gone.

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Jim Rogers' Ultimate Road Trip (George F. Smith)

George F. Smith on the fascinating experiences of investment guru Jim Rogers and his wife Paige:

Anyone who publicly calls for the abolition of the Fed gets my attention. Add to his resume the fact that he rode a motorcycle across China once, circled the planet on the ground twice (the second time with his beautiful bride), ran the New York City marathon three times, and is one of the world’s most successful investors as well as a best-selling author, and I’ll sit and take notes.

I did my note-taking while reading Jim Rogers’s book, Adventure Capitalist: The Ultimate Road Trip, which documents his world-spanning odyssey at the turn of the century with his wife, Paige Parker. Unlike other books you can’t stop reading, Rogers ’s narrative doesn’t grip you so much with the tension of what might lie ahead, though there’s certainly some of that. Instead, it holds you prisoner with fascinating detail and anecdotes written from a perspective few of us will ever experience. He also elucidates the political and economic background of the places they visit from a refreshingly free-market, libertarian orientation.

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The Military Lies (Roger Young)

Roger Young destroys the myths surrounding the military:

Not exactly a bold, controversial statement, right? Even the most ardent supporter will agree that the military lies during its day-to-day mission of "defending" the country, in part to confuse the enemy de jour. But the far greater deceit lies in justifying the reasons for this organization’s mere existence.

My recent piece asked honest, logical questions disputing certain rationalizations pertaining to the military. The response from readers was overwhelmingly positive and the vast majority of those respondents were veterans! Among the small minority of dissenters, only a few made polite, thoughtful rebuttals. Not surprisingly, their arguments failed to convince me. However, their points did cause me to realize that the military’s claim of "defending my freedom" was not only untrue but an impossible task for the military to accomplish.

Military supporters certainly claim the organization "protects my freedom." Does the military make identical, documented claims?

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